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Wurster's Crowns:  A Comparative Study of ortho- and para-Phenylenediamine-Containing Macrocyclic Receptors

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posted on 10.12.2007, 00:00 by John W. Sibert, Philip B. Forshee, Greg R. Hundt, Andrew L. Sargent, Simon G. Bott, Vincent Lynch
Two series of isomeric, redox-responsive azacrown ethers based on ortho- and para-phenylenediamine (Wurster's crowns) have been synthesized and their properties explored through 13C NMR spectroscopy, electrospray ionization mass spectrometry, cyclic voltammetry, and X-ray crystallography. These crowns display strong affinity for alkali metal cations while maintaining comparable selectivity profiles to the parent crown ethers from which they are derived. Like Wurster's reagent (N,N,N‘,N‘-tetramethyl-p-phenylenediamine or para-TMPD), the para-Wurster's crowns undergo two reversible one-electron oxidations. The integrity of the alkali metal ion complexes is maintained in the neutral and singly oxidized ligand states but not after removal of two electrons. In contrast, the oxidation of ortho-Wurster's crowns is scan rate dependent, occurring at potentials substantially higher than their para counterparts, with their complexes oxidizing irreversibly. X-ray crystal structures of representative complexes show, in all cases, participation of the redox-active phenylenediamine subunits in complex formation via direct bonding to the guest cation.